Regensburg, Germany is a relatively small – but historically important walled city in Germany. The old town dates back to the stone age – and for quite some time – it served as the capital of Bavaria. The ecclesiastical part of Charlemagne’s General Assembly was held here in 792. So this town is no sleeper!
We visited for 2 main reasons – one to visit the ‘Schloss’ or Palace of the Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and 2nd to see the stone bridge that part of Napoleon’s army (the 3me ligne) fought hard and long to win in 1809.
Seeing the bridge was easy. It’s just there. But seeing the Palace – naturally that required some planning ahead. Regine (one of our German friends who lives in Switzerland) made reservations for us weeks ago – and it was a good thing too – getting English tours is consistently challenging here in Germany.
Why did Regensburg rate having the Prince of Thurn and Taxis build a Palace? It turns out that from 1663 until 1806 – Regensburg was the permanent seat of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, which of course made it very important. That wasn’t enough – what got the Palace built was the relocation of the Reichpost to Regensburg in 1748 – and as the head of the Post – the Prince of Thurn and Taxis needed a new home. However – they didn’t take possession of this Palace until 1812, when secularization laws forced the Benedictine Order to give up possession of the Cloisters of St. Emmeram, and the property came into the ownership of the family of Thurn and Taxis.
According to our tour guide – the family of Thurn and Taxis rated the inherited title of Postmaster General because the idea of postal stations was their invention. The pony express concept – horses and riders waiting at stations along the route – so the mail never starts – was invented by this family between 1200 and 1400.
Don’t believe me – check it out at Wikipedia:
With all the visitors coming and going – having a nice place to entertain was important. And so the Palace was built using part of the Monastery of St. Emmeram. It’s been maintained because the family still lives on the upper floors and is reported to be one of the wealthiest in Germany!
Their story doesn’t end badly – despite eventually losing all the lucrative postal business to the government starting in 1806 as Germany was increasingly centralized. They recovered part of the business for a while by creating a company (Thurn and Taxis Post) – but eventually the entire thing became a government monopoly.
Because the Palace and the Monastery are in fact co-joined – a visit to the Palace includes a tour of the remaining portion of the Cloister – primarily the hall and the church. Outside of the Palace compound, but also part of the same complex is the Church of St. Emmeran – also worth visiting. It’s wooden painted ceiling is hundreds of years old. When we were there – they were setting up for a wedding – a combination of old and new – with music ranging from ‘You light up my Life’ to ‘Somewhere beyond the Sea’. Blue and White balloons contributed to the festive air!
If the Palace were just a museum – it would be interesting. But what make the Palace special, as I mentioned before, is that current Princess of Thurn and Taxis (Gloria) still lives in the Palace, along with her son and 2 daughters. She has her own line of jams, jellies, and wines – and has written (with maybe some help) several books on what it is like to be a member of royalty. She was quite young when she married the former prince – so it’s not a huge surprise that today she’s the regent for her son. If you check out her history – she had quite a wild youth (from a being a waitress in St. Moritz to becoming the wife of a hugely wealthy, much much older man has to have been a challenge), but when hit with inheritance taxes (by some reports – over $2 billion), she quickly settled down into a remarkable business woman. Check her out in detail at:
Until 1998 the family owned a brewery, and despite selling the ‘firm’ to the Paulaner Group, they still have their own brand – Thurn and Taxis of course.
They even have their own board game.
On the walls were several outstanding pieces of modern art – nestled along side century old tapestries, glorious inlaid tables, and magnificent ceiling paintings. My favorite painting is of one of Therese, wife of Karl Alexander, 5th Prince of Thurn and Taxis – painted in 1811 – and showing her sporting the new style of ‘undress’ or Regency Style clothing made famous by Josephine, wife of Napoleon!
My favorite part of the house? The ballroom of course. Decorated extensively in high fashion Rocco gold and gilt – and fitted with electric lights (the family still lives here – remember) – you can easily envision elegantly clad men and women dancing the evening away.